What happened in the Russia-Ukraine war this week? Catch up with the must-read news and analysis

<span>Photograph: Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images

Every week we wrap up essential coverage of the war in Ukraine, from news and features to analysis, opinion and more.

‘Defence should be the major industry in Ukraine’

Oleksandr Kamyshin wants to attract companies such as Lockheed Martin, which produces the Himars missile launching system, to manufacture in Ukraine.
Oleksandr Kamyshin wants to attract companies such as Lockheed Martin, which produces the Himars missile launching system, to manufacture in Ukraine. Photograph: Tony Overman/AP

Franklin D Roosevelt said the US must stand as the “great arsenal of democracy” and now Ukraine wants to become “the arsenal of the free world”. Oleksandr Kamyshin, the tsar of Ukraine’s domestic arms industry, has told Shaun Walker that even when the war with Russia is over, Ukraine should focus on arms production and providing weapons for export.

Kamyshin started the war as the head of Ukraine’s state railway network. In March, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, appointed him minister of strategic industries. Kamyshin suggests the title is too broad. “For the next decades, defence should be the major industry in Ukraine. After the war it should be our core export product.”

Before the full-scale invasion, Ukraine’s arms industry was a murky sector and weapons stocks were fairly limited. Now, as well as Ukraine’s 70 state-run defence enterprises, myriad small private enterprises have sprung up to arm the military, ranging from big companies to a few people in a shed. There are more than 200 Ukrainian companies making drones, said Kamyshin, and many more with promising ideas.

Longer-term, Ukrainian officials want to attract western arms manufacturers. An arms production summit in Washington on 6-7 December will bring top Ukrainian officials and companies together with western governments and the world’s leading arms manufacturers.

‘The body holds experience’

When Daniil Melnyk walks into the studio in a former factory in Lviv, the chat and jokes begin. Melnyk has been photographed several times here by the artist Marta Syrko, Charlotte Higgins reports. He pulls off his sweatshirt and trousers, revealing the heavily tattooed body of a young soldier. Then he removes his prosthetic legs: he has had two below-the-knee amputations. He lacks three of the fingers of his right hand.

Syrko’s artistic focus has long been on the human body – “athletes’ bodies, older people’s bodies, thinking about the way the body holds experience”. Official figures put the number of Ukrainians who have undergone amputations at 20,000 since the start of the full-scale invasion, though experts on the ground suspect the real figure is much higher, perhaps as many as 50,000.

Syrko noticed that this reality was not being reflected in the Ukrainian media. She has now worked with several different people who have been seriously injured in the war, seeing her work as vital to Ukrainian society adapting to this new reality. “Forty per cent of Ukraine’s territory is now mined. It will take us decades to clear it, and people will be returning to their houses and they will be stepping on mines for years. And we haven’t even started the demining of forests and lakes. All this means that we have to be ready to work with people who have lost their limbs for years to come.”

‘Ukraine never gives up what belongs to it by law’

Items from the Scythian collection displayed during unpacking procedure at the National Museum of History, Kyiv, Ukraine
Items from the Scythian collection displayed during unpacking procedure at the National Museum of History, Kyiv, Ukraine. Photograph: Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images

Ukraine has hailed the return of Scythian gold treasures as a “symbolic and historic” victory over Russia, which had laid claim to the artefacts in a decade-long struggle over ownership. After a lengthy battle, the Dutch supreme court ruled in June that the items belonged to Ukraine. The Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam removed them from storage and dispatched them to Kyiv in a truck. They arrived on Sunday at Pechersk Lavra monastery in the capital, Luke Harding wrote.

On Tuesday the collection, including a rare golden neck ornament and a solid gold helmet, was shown off in Kyiv. They are among 1,000 items lent in 2013 by four museums in Crimea – not long before it was annexed by Vladimir Putin – for an exhibition in the Netherlands. The following year – with the artefacts still out of the country – Vladimir Putin annexed the Black Sea peninsula. Ukraine and the museums in Moscow-occupied territory both demanded the Scythian finds be sent back to them.

“We returned home not just valuables that were taken out of Crimea in 2013, but a part of our history,” said Vasyl Malyuk, the head of Ukraine’s SBU intelligence agency, which coordinated the shipment. “For us, as well as for our country in general, this case is symbolic. It shows that Ukraine never gives up what belongs to it by law.”

‘Mobilisation will become more flexible’

In the first months of the war, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians volunteered to fight, as part of a wave of patriotic determination that shocked Russia and repelled its initial advances. But as the war has dragged on, most people who are willing to fight have already signed up, and many of those already at the front are injured or exhausted.

Now, the Ukrainian government is planning to change its conscription practices as it seeks to sustain fighting capacity after nearly two years of full-fledged war with Russia. The changes are expected to include using commercial recruitment companies to carry out more targeted conscription, and to reassure conscripts they will be deployed in roles that match their skills, not simply sent to the front, according to one senior official.

“Some people are scared, scared to die, scared to shoot, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be involved in other activities … Now we have a new minister with a new approach,” Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s security council, told the Guardian’s Shaun Walker. “The mobilisation will become more flexible, those specialities that are required will be announced, and people will be volunteering for a concrete position. For example, they need welders or mechanics and so on,” said Danilov.

Putin’s ‘one people’ lie dismantled

The St Sophia cathedral in Kyiv. Climate, geography and environmental questions will form a part of the project’s focus
The St Sophia cathedral in Kyiv. Climate, geography and environmental questions will form a part of the project’s focus. Photograph: eFesenko/Alamy

Vladimir Putin’s On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians, published in summer 2021, ranged over 1,000 years of history in its 7,500 words to assert that the two countries are “one people”. Now, 90 international and Ukrainian historians are coming together under the umbrella of the new London-based Ukrainian History Global Initiative to wrest Ukraine’s past from the shadow of Russian and Soviet narratives, Charlotte Higgins reports.

The historians want Ukraine’s history to take its place among a wealth of global stories – from the part it played in the history of the ancient Greeks who founded trading emporia on the Black Sea, to its connections with Byzantium, and its links with the Vikings who ruled the medieval polity of Kyivan Rus.

Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale, at a launch for the initiative at the British Museum in London, said: “The whole history of the second world war looks different if you understand that Germany’s main war aim was the conquest of Ukraine. And I would venture to say that the history of the 21st century looks different if you understand the reasons why Ukraine resisted the Russian invasion.”